Coronavirus Special Report
Year Three: January 8-14, 2022
Read all about it! U.S. Coronavirus deaths pass 846,000. The national vaccination rate crawls past 63%. U.S. post-holiday flying numbers tumble. American Airlines says it won't fire vaccine holdouts. United says sick calls are extremely high while Delta threatens flight attendants over time off for positive tests. Qantas, Finnair and Virgin Australia slash schedules. Amtrak says fiscal 2022 revenue will be down 20% on pre-pandemic levels. New Orleans reinstates indoor mask mandate, but the Paris outdoor mask rule is overturned. Sweden orders restaurants and bars to close early. Heathrow Airport traffic plunges in December. The United States continues fighting with China over flights and schedules. And more.
Coronavirus Update: Friday, January 14, 2022
You've heard by now: The Supreme Court opted not to stop a Biden Administration mandate that requires health care workers to vaccinate. But it stopped the wider OSHA vax-or-test mandate for companies with 100 or more employees. Please remember, however: The Court did not rule on the merits of either mandate. It just exercised (or didn't) its power to delay things while the matters work their way through lower courts. The Washington Post
. Here are today's other developments:
January bumps along
The TSA says 1,541,835 people passed through U.S airport security checkpoints yesterday. It continues the post-New Year slump in travel.
Hotels half full
U.S. hotels registered an average occupancy of 45.4% for the week ended January 8. That is almost 15 points lower than a similar January week in 2019, says hotel statisticians STR.
Novax, no visa
Australia's immigration minister used his personal prerogative to strip Novak Djokovic of an entry visa for the second time. Novak's appeal will be heard by a federal Australian court on Saturday (local time). The defending Australian Open champ admits he lied about his international movements before arriving in Australia and conducted public activities after a positive Coronavirus diagnosis. Agence France-Presse has details
Effective Saturday, the Los Angeles Zoo returns to requiring online reservations to pay a visit. The CBS television affiliates in Los Angeles have details
Let them (not) wear masks
A French court has blocked the outdoor mask mandate recently reimposed by local officials in Paris. The court said the rule was "an excessive, disproportionate and inappropriate ... infringement of individual freedom."
Coronavirus Update: Thursday, January 13, 2022
Experts say that the Omicron variant--incredibly transmissible but with mild medical impact on the vaccinated--is leading to Covid-19 becoming endemic. But, still, these are scary projections: FDA boss Janet Woodcock told a Senate panel that "most people are going to get Covid." And half of Europe will be infected with Omicron in the next six-to-eight weeks, according to Hans Kluge of the World Health Organization. Here are today's other developments:
The TSA says 1,231,419 people passed through U.S airport security checkpoints yesterday. Only one day in 2022 has reached 2 million travelers.
Delta with Omicron
Delta says that 8,000 employees--around 11% of its workforce--have called in sick with Coronavirus during the last four weeks.
Down Down Under
Qantas says it is cutting capacity by about a third in the first quarter of the year as the Omicron variant depresses travel. Reuters has details
The magic number is 50
The Covid vaccine will be mandatory in Italy for residents over 50 years of age starting on February 15. Without a vaccine, residents can't get a "green pass" necessary to work, dine out or do most anything in the country. WantedinRome.com has details
Australian officials still have not decided whether to allow defending men's champion Novak Djokovic to compete, but they've decided that crowds at next week's Australian Open tennis tournament will be limited to 50% of capacity.
European flight capacity is tumbling, partially due to a post-holiday slowdown and partially due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Eurocontrol, which handles the continent's air traffic control, says flight volume over the last two weeks is down from 15% (Germany) to 36% (Italy). The large low-fare/high-fee carriers have been particularly vicious capacity cutters. Ryanair is down 55%, for example.
Coronavirus Update: Wednesday, January 12, 2022
The Biden Administration has ordered private insurers to cover the cost of up to eight at-home antigen tests per month per person. The Washington Post
. Here are today's other developments:
The TSA says 1,125,952 people passed through U.S airport security checkpoints yesterday. While that is more than double the volume of last year on a similar day, the TSA says it is the lowest single-day volume since last April.
Finnair says rising sick calls require it to cut schedules by 20% in February and push back the launch of its DFW-Helsinki flights to until March 27. The service was originally due to begin next month.
Cover up in the Big Easy
New Orleans has reinstated its indoor mask mandate. TheHill.com has the details
United is (literally) sick
United Airlines says a third of employees at its Newark hub called in sick on a recent day. Around 3,000 employees now have Coronavirus although none are hospitalized. Insider.com has details
. Meanwhile, the airline cancelled 7% of its schedule yesterday, according to FlightStats.com.
Tax or vax
Quebec says it is planning to tax unvaccinated citizens to help cover the cost of their increased hospitalizations and other Coronavirus-related treatments. Agence France-Presse has details
Delta versus stews
Delta Air Lines and flight attendants are in a virtual food fight over the carrier's new policy for sick leave and positive test results. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Coronavirus Update: Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Its ultimate fate rests with the courts, of course, but the OSHA vax-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees goes into effect today. There will be no penalties for noncompliance until next month, however. TheHill.com has details
. Here are today's other developments:
The TSA says 1,449,550 people passed through U.S airport security checkpoints yesterday. That is the lowest volume of the year so far as traffic plummets after the holidays.
London's Heathrow Airport continues to contract. Traffic in 2021 fell more than 12% compared to 2020. There were about 19.4 million flyers, fewer than a quarter of the volume of pre-pandemic traffic. At least 600,000 potential passengers cancelled trips in December, ostensibly because of the Omicron variant. Agence France-Presse has details
U.S. airlines cancelled about 900 flights yesterday, the lowest number since the start of the Christmas travel season. Even Alaska Airlines, which has cancelled as much as 18% of its schedule each day, dropped below 10%.
The United States and China continue to battle over shriveled passenger and aircraft traffic between the two countries. The latest move: China forced United, Delta and American airlines to cancel dozens of flights in recent days. Reuters has the details
Commodore Perry to the white courtesy phone
Japan says it will continue to bar virtually all international arrivals until the end of February. The government also says it will reopen many mass-vaccination sites.
The city of Anyang in China's Henan province told its five million residents not to leave their homes or drive cars on the roads, according to Xinhua, the official news agency said. The cities of Yuzhou and Xi'an are also under strict lockdowns.
Cruising in lockdown
You say you want to cruise? Consider what The Washington Post
says about passengers in isolation
during a sailing.
Coronavirus Update: Monday, January 10, 2022
The Omicron variant is everywhere, infecting politicians, titans of business, actors, musicians and all sorts of other high-profile types. But nothing is getting as much ink as the saga of Novak Djokovic, the top-rated tennis player who journeyed to Australia to defend his Australian Open title. The latest twist? An Australian judge says he can
enter the country despite the government's revocation of his visa. The government's response? It may send Djokovic home by using the "personal power" of the Immigration minister. Here's the latest installment
of the saga. Here are today's other developments:
And down we go
About 4.6 million people passed through TSA security checkpoints at U.S. airports over the weekend (Friday-Sunday). That's around 250,000 fewer per day than the New Year's weekend. The TSA says Sunday's traffic (1,693,518) represents the slowest Sunday since September 5, 2021.
These numbers are puzzling--and deadly
There were 4,967,431 new Coronavirus cases in the United States during the last week, according to Johns Hopkins. It is the worst single-week report since the pandemic began and close to double the rate of the previous week. Meanwhile, the death toll was 11,307, up sharply from the previous week, but still far below the weekly high of 23,415 recorded January 10-16, 2021.
U.S. airlines cancelled more than 1,300 flights each day on Saturday and Sunday. Southwest Airlines, super-commuter SkyWest and United cancelled the highest number of flights, but Alaska Airlines dumped the highest percentage (15-17%) of its schedule. This after it said it would cut 10% of its schedule for the rest of the month. (Statistics compiled by FlightStats.com.)
Eurocontrol says that aircraft traffic for the first week of 2022 was 78.5% of 2019 levels. That is an average of 19,920 flights a day in Europe's skies.
Swedish shut down
Restaurants and bars in Sweden will be required to close at 11pm under new Coronavirus rules imposed today (local time). There will also be restrictions on seating and group sizes. The new regulations go into effect on January 12.
Amtrak says it will end the 2022 fiscal year with revenues at 80% of pre-pandemic levels. IRJ, the rail Web site, has details
China is testing all 14 million residents of Tianjin after a Covid cluster was discovered. Politico.com has details
Cutting Down Under
Virgin Australia, which was rebuilding its network after Australia's long lockdown, is now cutting schedules by 25% in January and February as Covid numbers rise. Reuters has details
Coronavirus Update: Weekend, January 8-9, 2022
Remember the Sunwing charter flight to Cancun that featured dancing in the aisles, vaping, drinking--and no mask wearing? Turns out bad behavior is its own reward. Most of the idiots are having trouble getting home to Canada because other airlines--even Sunwing--won't carry them. The New York Times
. Here are this weekend's other developments.
The American Way
American Airlines says that 96% of its employees are vaccinated or have received an appropriate exemption. But American says it won't fire those remaining holdouts because, well, American is headquartered in Texas and has gutless management. But you knew that.
The Citibank Way
Citibank, which issues some of American Airlines' credit cards, says it will fire employees who are not vaccinated or have an exemption. Bloomberg has details
Royal Caribbean, one of the world's largest cruise operators, says it is cancelling cruises due to the Omicron variant. The New York Times
Call us in a couple of years
Chinese aviation regulators (aka Communist party functionaries) say it will be 2025 before all international service can be restored. Reuters has details
Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 1-7
Read all about it! U.S. Coronavirus deaths pass 834,000. The national vaccination rate reaches 63%. France clamps down on unvaccinated U.S. visitors while Cyprus demands negative PCR tests of all arrivals. Hong Kong and Macao ban all flights from the United States, Canada and other countries. England and Ireland ease testing rules for entry. Bad weather, Covid absentees and dreadful airline management lead to an end-of-the-year flying disaster that has dragged into this week. Global airline seat capacity was down 35% in 2021. Every cruise ship sailing in U.S. waters has reported Coronavirus cases and the CDC is investigating. And more. Click here
for the week's updates.
2021 Daily Coronavirus Updates
The year began with hope and vaccines. It ended with Omicron, new lockdowns and restrictions that foiled plans for a return to the "normal" of travel. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2021's archives
2020 Daily Coronavirus Updates
We began day-by-day tracking of the Coronavirus' effect on travel in late January last year. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2020's archives